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It’s happening: Terry Francona is leaving the Red Sox

Sep 30, 2011, 9:50 AM EDT

Terry Francona

The reports from late last night are apparently true. Jon Heyman reports that Terry Francona has managed his last game in Boston.  No sense yet if it will be couched as a resignation or the Red Sox deciding not to pick up his 2012 option or Francona requesting that they not do it or whatever.  There will be an announcement from the team later today, though, so we should get the story then.

Matthew touched on the ridiculousness of the Sox wanting Francona gone here and the lack of readily-identifiable replacements here. I did some of that yesterday and I talked a bit about Red Sox’ team chemistry — the reported basis for the Francona-hate today — here.

We’ll obviously have more on this as people in official capacities begin to speak and leak about it.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Well, I just said this in the “chemistry” post, there should be rejoicing in the Universe. They won’;t find nearly as capable a successor.

    • El Bravo - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Wow, maybe the Cubs WILL be good next year…

    • no1sportsfan - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      If francona is gone. I hope the white sox hire immediately!!

      • - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        No, I think Buddy Bell is a good fit for the White Sox.

      • no1sportsfan - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        * buddy bell has already turned down interviewing for the white sox job he is staying where he is. How about Bob Brenly it can’t hurt to ask him.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    If I want anyone replacing Quade, it’s this guy.

    Sorry this happened to you Boston fans, but I’ll start hoping he comes to the North Side.

    • El Bravo - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      ha, great minds think alike.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        Isn’t Freddi signed long term Bravo?

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        Or do you also hope he goes to the north side? :)

  3. bostonhasrealhockey - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    THEO: “Hello, is joe torre home?”

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      MRS TORRE: “No, Joe’s out spraying kids who are close to our lawn. Can I help you?”

    • paperlions - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      Boston is too smart to do something so silly….nothing to do with Torre being an ex-Yankee….just the fact that he isn’t particularly good at managing.

      • jimbo1949 - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        Not quite the Elderly Curmudgeon™, but….

      • jamkarat - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM

        Really- no good at managing?? you should check out where he is on the leaderboards for wins and pennants for managing,

  4. mithrophon - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Should’ve exercised his contract option, then traded him to the Cubs for a minor leaguer. Or sold him to Japan. Can they do that with managers?

  5. cdeangelus - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Yesterday’s press conference and articles should at least put into question whether Tito is the man the Red Sox need going forward, regardless of this collapse being his fault or not. It was intimated in an ESPN article that Youklis(!) was actually a plague on the clubhouse, that Ellsbury still hadn’t gotten over the vitriol thrown at him for his injuries last year, that starting pitchers drank beer during games they weren’t pitching, and that the clubhouse was a much bigger mess than *anyone* in the media had any clue of. Pete Abraham said he felt the clubhouse was a room full of “me firsts,” this year, including during the good times. Assuming all this to be true, calling it “nonsense” that Francona should be fired isn’t operating with all the facts.

    Perhaps he just lost the respect of his players. Perhaps he lost the will to keep superstars from getting too big. There are a lot of people in that clubhouse that weren’t there for 2007, and a lot of changed, aged players from that 2007 season. Varitek is a second stringer. Wakefield lost how many games to get to 200, and is now talking about wanting to come back next year? This is not the same team, and sometimes you need a change. I would not call this Tito’s fault, but sometimes the manager you have isn’t the one you need.

    This happened to Joe Torre, with all the superstars coming in saying “what have you done for me lately (OOOOoooooOOOOHHH YEAH!)” Or conversely, look at Bob Lemon coming in to calm things down. Sometimes you just need to change the messaging, and now might be that time.

    It’s not about blame, it’s about organizational needs. Tito isn’t the manager they need right now, no matter how good he is.

    • El Bravo - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      All serious, all makes sense if what you claim is true, and then you quote Paula Abdul (if I’m not mistaken). Laughing my ass off!

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        I believe that was a Janet Jackson quote. 😉

      • nolanwiffle - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

        You two should get together and discuss this further over a couple of apple-tinis.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:47 AM

        I only remember that song quote because of her huge bombs bouncing around in the video back in the day. It’s not like I ever listened to Janet “Miss Jackson if you’re Nasty” 😉

  6. shaggylocks - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Jason Varitek: player-manager. When it happens, just remember that you heard it here first.

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      Varitek is beaucoup ugly too, but at least he’s not Youkilis. Even so, would you want that mug to be the face of your team? I mean, assuming it isn’t a team of sled dogs….

  7. acheron2112 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Well, that sucks.

  8. protectthishouse54 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    What a knee-jerk reaction by Boston. After 86 years of failure he brings home 2 championships and gets canned a couple years later. Ouch.

    • El Bravo - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      Francona and Ozzie need to have a drink together soon.

  9. cktai - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Actually I don’t think this is such a bad thing for the Red Sox. I don’t believe that Francona is to blame, nor that his expiration date has run out, but I don’t believe he is irreplaceable either. Let’s face it, as long as Theo Epstein stays GM and they have cash to burn, almost any manager can lead the Red Sox to glory.

  10. bostonhasrealhockey - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    MRS TORRE: “No, Joe’s out spraying kids who are close to our lawn. Can I help you?”

    “well…mrs. T, how YOU doin?” lol

  11. woodenulykteneau - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Fredi Gonzalez should be available this afternoon…

  12. Tyree Studio - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    Better get Buddy Bell in there before the White Sox snatch him up!

  13. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    If Francona doesn’t want to come back, then what are the Red Sox supposed to do? Chain him to the bench? There are as many reports saying that he wasn’t happy and wants out, so why is everyone just jumping on the “Red Sox are stupid” bandwagon?

  14. indaburg - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Any chance Theo might be jumping ship as well? I’d like to see Theo go to the Cubs, so the Cubs stop sniffing around Andrew Friedman. (And Theo should take some of the blame for overpaying Crawford, a player who is simply not a good fit for the Red Sox.)

  15. bobdira - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Well, the sox are at the gates of hell now. Where do you go to find a manager who has to be effective with overpaid underachieving athletes. How about Phil Jackson, he was able to get Kobe and Shaq to work it out.

    They haven’t figured it out in Miami (the Heat) yet.

    It isn’t as simple as throwing a ball out on a diamond and saying go at it boys. You gotta account for chemistry and like the Yankees struggled before Jeter became their face, heart and soul the Sox are going to find the road hard to travel.

    If Francona’s gone and it looks like he is, there are REAL problems left behind; 25 or so of them and they need to be solved before this team thing gets fixed. First step, stop allowing these Rhodes Scholars to do interviews and openly display how dysfunctional they are.

  16. aceshigh11 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    That sucks. I’m going to miss him.

  17. daubs17 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    totally obnoxious. the fact that a manager no longer wants to manage the boston red sox is a clear indication of the stuff that went on in the clubhouse. ortiz, youkilis, papelbon, and lackey all need to go. see ya losees

  18. stinkfist5 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Buck, here’s your chance to nab your first transaction…

  19. uyf1950 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Someone has to be made to be the scapegoat. Sure probably Theo Epstein is more responsible for the Sox demise than Francona but usually the first guy to go is the “on field” manager and a couple of coaches. That’s just the way it is. Sure it’s the players that are mainly to blame they are the ones that go out and actually run, hit and pitch but as the saying goes you can’t let 25 players go. Or at least in the case of September for the Sox let 20 or so under performers go. So Francona has to “fall on his sword”. It may not be right, it may not be the best thing for the organization either short or long term, but it is the way of the sports world.
    The problem for the Sox should Francona leave however doesn’t change. They still have the underlying issues. Some bad in hindsight long term contracts like Crawford’s and Lackey’s. Obviously some issues with the health of certain players like Lowell and Buchholz. And not saying anything about the players they may or may not have to replace like Papelbon and Ortiz.
    To be honest nearly everyone applauded Theo Epstein during FA and spring training for the coup he made with the signings of Wheeler, Jenks, Crawford and Gonzalez. But the truth is Wheeler, Jenks and Crawford were a complete bust in 2011 as for Gonzalez and this is just my opinion while his overall numbers are impressive. When crunch time came in August and specifically September he did not live up to expectations.
    So the Sox management/ownership can get rid of Francona but have they made anything better or only worse? That the question.

    • ippoic - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      How is Epstein responsible? He came into this season having addressed the team’s need for a left fielder, having six starters available (Dice-K, Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Wakefield) at the MLB level and Dubront sitting in the minors, and he had good options off the bench (Lowrie). During the season he went out and acquired one starter and tried to swing a deal for a second.

      Sorry, but sometimes bad luck and injuries take down a team. No team in baseball is prepared to have 9 guys toe the rubber. Not Theo’s fault.

      • uyf1950 - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        Sorry, but in my opinion just like last year he nothing when a couple of the players went down with injuries. For Example: Dice K and Buchholz. both went down early in the season and Epstein instead of looking to replace them with “decent replacements” who did he go to? Bedard, he spot started Wakefield and Aceves, Weiland, Miller.
        The truth is and again this is just my opinion but once the season started Epstein sat on this thumbs and was lulled into a false sense of security by the Sox play during the summer. Offense (scoring) covers up a lot of faults but when the offense began to sputter it couldn’t and didn’t cover up the weakest link in the Sox chain and that was the pitching. Aceves innings finally caught up with him, Dice K and Buchholz never made it back into the starting rotation and Wheeler stunk and Jenks spent more time on the DL then he did in a Sox uniform in 2011. So yes, in my opinion Epstein bears a big part of the responsibility for the Sox downfall.

      • markfrednubble - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        Read this list of free agents signed by Theo to big contracts (I am not including the low-risk, low-money guys), and tell me he doesn’t share plenty of responsibility:

        Edgar Renteria
        JD Drew
        Daisuke Matsuzaka
        Julio Lugo
        Mike Cameron
        John Lackey
        Bobby Jenks
        Carl Crawford

        That is not a so-so, mediocre record. It is horrendous. I have high hopes that Crawford will turn around but the rest are pretty much lost causes, bad investments.

        Now thankfully, Theo’s record in drafting and developing home-grown talent is much better. Lester, Pedroia, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Papelbon, Bard, Hanley Ramirez (who got Beckett and Lowell here), and the kids dealt to San diego for Adrian Gonzalez.

  20. badmamainphilliesjamas - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Don’t think the RS collapse can be pinned on Francona …even if he did lose control of the clubhouse, the game is played by the players on the field. Managers are easy scapegoats, but it’s hard to quantify their actual added (or subtracted) value.
    Every top team has high-priced players and big egos. They all have injuries–some worse than others. That said, watching Charlie Manuel and the Phils, I think much can be said for what a manager DOESN’T allow to happen. It’s hard to prove a negative, but a manager is the one who can keep a team from going off the rails in the midst of injuries, slumps, egos, finger-pointing and local sports talk.
    Hope Francona lands someplace where he’s appreciated.

  21. aaronmoreno - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Boston sportswriters are right-they becoming more like the Yankees.

    Just like New York, Boston is full of entitled a-holes in the media who run everyone into the ground, and say they can’t take the heat when they leave.

  22. psousa1 - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Shame. He’s a good manager. Best of my lifetime with the sox. With everyone you question moves but he was the best they’ve ever had. No way does a guy like Torre or Valentine come in here. Theo swears by the sabermetrics bullshit and buys into the moneyball philosophy that a manager and team chemistry don’t play into winning games (which is crap). Theo knows a veteran manager (Valentine challenges the front office everywhere he goes) will not be on board with this. It will probably be Dave Martinez of Tampa if anyone.

  23. marshmallowsnake - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    I believe the time has come for me to drop the old town team… This reeks of Grady Little in 2003 and of the ownership caving into public opinion. Something tells me I will not get the straight story either.

  24. markfrednubble - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    I am a Red Sox season ticket holder and a die-hard fan since 1967. Terry Francona is the best manager the Red Sox have had in my lifetime as a fan — not only demonstrated by winning and bottom-line results but by the humanity of this guy. He is class epitomized, a folksy old-time baseball guy with a very sharp mind, straight shooter, a guy who has his players’ backs and never lets them twist in the media wind when he can take a bullet for him. As a corporate guy and leader of organizations, I find much to admire in Tito’s people management style. I also think there is a rare level of loyalty to this guy in the fan base, much more than exists for most of the players. This is not normal. Tito is truly beloved in Boston.

    That said, this organization is at a critical intersection. They should be questioning a lot of things they believe they do well — including the General Manager we’ve always thought we were so lucky to have (could a GM have a worse record with high-priced free agents than Theo?). Sometimes you have to change management not because management is weak or inadequate, but because you need a fresh approach to get the organization to the next level. They probably aren’t going to change Tito at this stage of his life. He is who he is. They are stuck with too many overpaid jerks on that roster who don’t put team ahead of self. It’s not as simple as firing those players. This 2011 team probably needed a tough bastard who didn’t care if players hated him some days, a Belichick type. The logic may seem backward, but they have forced themselves into needing to change the manager because they are stuck with most of the players they have.

    I am not saying I believe they are right in letting Tito go. In my heart I hate it. In my head I understand it. I get the argument that injuries killed them this year but if you watched them every day, you know it went deeper than that. Remember when the Red Sox of ’70s were mocked as “25 guys, 25 cabs”? It sounds like this group is similar.

    Tito’s place in Red Sox history can never be diminished. He will never have to pay for another meal or beer in this town as long as he lives. I can’t wait to get up out of my seat one day and stand up for this guy when he is given his proper moment as the manager who ended 86 years of frustration. He will get a hero’s reception that day and he will deserve every minute of it. Thanks for everything, Tito. Hold you heard high. You deserve better.

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      I won’t disagree with anything you’ve said, because you’re a fan of the team and closer to the situation than I am. That being said, what is the “next level” you’d like them to reach? They’ve made the playoffs 5 of the last 8 years and captured two World Series titles in that span. They very clearly should have made the playoffs this season.

      Also, who are the “overpaid jerks who don’t put team above self”? These guys were on cruise control in July and August, beating everybody in sight. The wheels fell off, but I never heard this was a clubhouse full of me-first guys.

      • markfrednubble - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:01 PM

        Nolan, what I mean by the next level is this: When you have one of the highest payrolls in baseball and a sold-out stadium every night. you should be in the playoffs pretty much every year. OK, once in a while you’ll have a bunch of injuries and off-years and you’ll miss the postseason, especially in a division like the AL East.

        In the entire time the current owners have been in Boston, with Theo as GM and TIto as manager, the Red Sox have won the AL East outright once. They have been the Wild Card five times and won two World Series. After winning the ’07 World Series, have done as follows: ’08 Wild Card, lost in Game 7 of ALCS; ’09 Wild Card, got swept in ALDS; ’10 missed playoffs; ’11 missed playoffs after the worst September collapse in baseball history.

        The trend line is not good at all — it’s pretty straight downhill. They haven’t won a postseason game in three years. During that time their free agent acquisitions have been major failures. And for two straight years they have several major injuries (more than typical) that have contributed to missing the playoffs.

        For me, getting to the next level means a lot better results that the last three seasons.

        In terms of “overpaid jerks” I am reacting to various reports of recent days about the clubhouse in general and various antics and lack of conditioning that Tito and Theo believed were not conducive to winning. John Lackey is an obvious candidate. Josh Beckett, Lackey’s buddy, had a good year but broke down in September and looks heavier than he has ever been. Crawford was a huge disappointment not only at the plate but on defense and on the bases. I don’t know if those guys or others can be described this way, so maybe the term is a bit unfair. But this was not just a breakdown of injuries, or bad pitching. It was horrendous baseball, the most errors in September of any team, bad baserunning, good hitters failing repeatedly in key situations. . . too many failures to be attributed to simply injuries or bad starting pitching, as many people are doing.

      • nolanwiffle - Oct 1, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        Thanks for the insights. And again, I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I wholeheartedly agree that they probably have underachieved in postseason play.

        My biggest concern as a baseball fan is seeing Red Sox fans morphing into what they’ve loathed for so many years…..Yankee-like fans. High payroll guarantees nothing, and that’s a good thing. It seems in recent years Sox fans have felt a berth in the playoffs is a God-given right, and a foregone conclusion. As someone who hates the Yanks and always sort of liked the Sox (big Freddie Lynn fan back in the day) that pains me.

        But, hey, I’m just a bitter Orioles fan…..

  25. contraryguy - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    Put Francona in a dugout not so filled with random free agent purchases and he’ll do great. I’d love to see him in a Reds uniform but Dusty and crew have one more year to make stupid lineups and burn out pitchers arms before they’re off contract. No big divas on the Reds roster (or maybe, nobody that has a right to be).

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